Myocardial hypertrophy and its transition to failure remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Sustained production of inflammatory cytokines is a hallmark of all phases of this transition. In particular, interleukin (IL)-18 is upregulated in heart failure, which directly correlates with the severity of myocardial damage and dysfunction, and poor clinical outcome in heart failure. Our preliminary studies demonstrate that IL-18 induces cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and fibroblast migration and proliferation in vitro, suggesting potential pro-hypertrophic and pro-fibrotic roles for IL-18 in vivo. Our studies in wild-type mice show that pressure overload induced by transverse aortic constriction (TAC) leads to left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and increased IL-18 expression. Remarkably, this hypertrophy can be significantly reduced by IL-18 neutralizing antibodies. IL-18 knockout mice develop significantly less LVH in response to TAC;conversely, cardiac-specific overexpression of IL-18 induces LVH and heart failure in the absence of TAC. Rabbit models also exhibit LVH and increased IL-18 expression in response to TAC. Furthermore, our preliminary human studies clearly demonstrate the prognostic power of systemic IL-18 levels to predict cardiac failure. Thus, our central HYPOTHESIS is that IL-18 is a key mediator of LVH and failure that results in pathological remodeling through the induction of hypertrophy-associated kinases, fetal genes, growth factors, and matrix metalloproteinases. To address this HYPOTHESIS, we will investigate IL-18-dependent signaling in cardiomyocytes in vitro (Specific Aim 1), the molecular mechanisms involved in IL-18-mediated cardiac fibroblast migration and proliferation in vitro (Specific Aim 2), and the causal role of IL-18 in LVH, fibrosis and failure in vivo, using cardiac-restricted IL-18KO and cardiac-specific IL-18 transgenic mice (Specific Aim 3). Results obtained in mice will be validated in a rabbit model of pressure-overload hypertrophy and failure. Systemic IL-18 levels will be measured and correlated with the relative severity of cardiac hypertrophy and failure in humans. Collectively, these proposed studies will establish IL-18 as a potentially use therapeutic target to attenuate the progression of LVH to cardiac failure.
t Narrative Myocardial hypertrophy and its transition to congestive heart failure are important diseases, resulting in quarter million deaths and one million hospitalizations annually in the US. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these pathological processes will help us design more effective therapeutic strategies to better care for these patients. The primary goal of this proposal is to better understand the role of inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-18 in particular, in myocardial hypertrophy and its transition to failure.
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